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NIOSH eNews – May 2011


Volume 9 Number 1 May 2011


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH
May eNews 2011

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

This month, to continue with our recognition of the 40th anniversary of NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the importance of research for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses, I would like to share with you a pictorial that provides some insight into what motivates our NIOSH researchers who dedicate themselves each day to helping make the nation’s work places healthier and safer for everyone.

We recently provided an opportunity to our NIOSH staff to submit photographs that illustrate the statement, “This is what NIOSH/workplace safety and health means to me.” The winning and runner-up photos are shown below but they are a small sample of the 85 submissions that were received and that were reviewed by an internal panel of judges. Each photo was judged on aesthetic quality of the photo, quality of the story told by the photo, and originality of the subject.

The winning photo was taken by Kim Clough-Thomas, a NIOSH Visual Information Specialist at in Morgantown, WV.

a woman standing next to a 'cough manakin'

“Assisting my colleagues, by bringing their research to life through visual and print media, represents my contribution to the larger NIOSH team,” Kim says.

This photo shows Francoise Blachere, a Research Biologist at NIOSH with “Homer,” a cough manikin built by researchers at NIOSH. The manikin simulates a patient with influenza. Homer resides in a simulated medical examination room with “Marge,” a breathing manikin that can be outfitted with a mask or respirator. The manikins are used in research to study the capabilities of respirators for protecting health care workers who may be at heightened risk for flu as a result of their job duties.

The runner-up photo was taken by Steven Ahrenholz, a NIOSH Senior Industrial Hygienist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

a picture of a burning oil vessel at sea

’Working for NIOSH to me means the opportunity to conduct research and field investigations and to recommend safety and health interventions in workplaces of all kinds, including workplaces, working conditions, and workplace hazards that may present very different perspectives on ’work,’ ’workplaces,’ and their associated hazards,” Steve says.

Steve was among the NIOSH researchers who were deployed to the Gulf last summer to provide technical assistance for protecting cleanup and containment workers during the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. This photo shows a flare boom aboard the Q4000, a multi-purpose oil field construction and intervention vessel. Steve explains that the flare was burning oil and gas pulled directly from the large, specialized valve used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells that had belonged to the Deepwater Horizon. This reduced the amount of oil and gas released directly into Gulf waters. The valve, also known as a Blow Out Preventer or BOP, was damaged during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and remained attached to the oil well 5000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

The winning photos as well as all the photo entries help portray the wide range of work and activities NIOSH researchers are engaged in. I encourage you to take some time to view them all. These and other occupational safety and health related photos are available on the NIOSH Flickr site at “What NIOSH Means To Me 2011.”

Walking the Red Carpet at Annual Scientific Award Ceremony

On April 28, NIOSH held its annual ceremony to recognize exemplary science by NIOSH researchers. Each year, four awards (with multiple categories) are presented to recognize significant accomplishments in research, partnership, research translation, career achievements, and service. The awards include the Alice Hamilton Award, the James P. Keogh Award, the Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award, and the Director’s Intramural Award. More information on the awards and a list of this year’s recipients is available at /niosh/awards/.

NIOSH Director Receives New Occupational Health Awareness Award

On May 2, NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard was presented with the first “Always & 4ever CHAMPION” award in the field of occupational health and safety. This innovative award was presented during 2nd Annual Occupational Health Awareness (OHA) Week ceremony in Albany New York. It the highest honor awarded by the OHA founding members. More information is available at

Gifted Workers Topic of New NIOSH Article

An article by Dr. Casey Chosewood of NIOSH on health and safety issues related to chronologically gifted workers was posted recently on Medscape It is also highlighted on Medscape’s “Public Health and Prevention” page

Wall Street Journal Picks Up on NIOSH Personal Dust Monitor

A May 3, article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the personal dust monitor, a device originally developed by NIOSH, and its current and increasing use in the mining industry to help miners limit how much dust they breathe.

Day Recognizes and Remembers Workers

Workers Memorial Day was April 28. This day serves as an opportunity to recognize and remember workers who were injured, made ill, or killed on the job. It is also a chance for each of us to reflect on how far we have come in reducing the toll of work-related injury, illness, and death, and what still needs to be done to reach our goal of safer and healthier workplaces. For a message from Dr. Howard, and for articles in commemoration of Workers Memorial Day in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, go to /niosh/topics/workmemorial/. There is also a new post on the NIOSH Science Blog reflecting on the day. /niosh/blog/

Join NIOSH at AIHce

Please join NIOSH, May 14-19 in Portland Oregon at the upcoming American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo (AIHce). The NIOSH exhibit will be at booth # 849 where NIOSH staff will available in person and interactively to answer your OSH questions. NIOSH researchers will also host a series of luncheon table talks at on May 17 from 12:30pm–1:30pm on topics that include engineering controls; Hispanic outreach; nanotechnology; heat stress; diacetyl; NIOSH creative services; NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods; and exploring the exposome. More information is available at

Letter to Healthcare Providers Stresses Safe Handling of Drugs

On April 8, a letter from NIOSH, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and The Joint Commission was sent to hospitals and healthcare employers stressing the need for safe practices when handling hazardous (including antineoplastic) drugs, which are highlighted in the NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2010 ( More information is available at /niosh/updates/upd-04-08-11.html.

State Adopts NIOSH Recommendations on Handling Hazardous Drugs

In April, the State of Washington adopted the recommendations found in the NIOSH Alert, Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings, as that state’s occupational safety and health regulations. To read the enactment, go to For a summary of the recommended procedures, go to /niosh/docs/2004-165/2004-165b.html#j.

NORA Manufacturing Seeks Abstracts for September Meeting

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Manufacturing Sector Council and partners are accepting abstracts for presentations and posters for the NORA Manufacturing Sector Conference: Partnerships to Improve Occupational Safety and Health, September 7–8, Hyatt Regency, Cincinnati, Ohio. Submissions will be accepted through May 30.

New Resource On Injuries, Illnesses & Fatalities in Wholesale and Retail Trade

A new NIOSH chart book features information on injuries, illness, and fatalities in the wholesale and retail trade industries. The document addresses knowledge gaps in these industries and assists researchers, the public, and employers to better understand the occupational safety and health characteristics and risks, and to identify areas where prevention efforts might be needed. /niosh/programs/wrt/pdfs/WRTchartbook_REV_3-31-11.pdf.

Register Now! NIOSH Prevention through Design Conference

Registration is now open for the NIOSH conference, Prevention through Design (PtD): A new way of doing business, a report on the National Initiative on August 22-24, in Washington, DC. This conference marks the mid-point of the PtD National Initiative and the goal is to take stock of the nation’s progress in improving worker safety and health through the inclusion of prevention methods in all designs that impact workers. For more information go to /niosh/topics/ptd/a-new-way/.

Panel to Study Adding Work Info To Electronic Health Records

At NIOSH’s request, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is conducting a study of the feasibility of incorporating patients’ work information into electronic health records. Results from this study will inform NIOSH efforts to demonstrate the feasibility of the inclusion of work information in electronic health records by 2013, and to provide rationale for the inclusion of work information in meaningful use guidelines. Access to patients’ work information can provide patients’ medical care providers with powerful information for the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses. The full announcement is available at

World Trade Center Health Program Updates

Public Meeting Transcript Available

On March 3, a public meeting was held in New York City to receive comments on implementing the provisions of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. For a summary of the comments and a full transcript of the meeting, go to /niosh/topics/wtc/publicmtg.html.

Director Update on 9/11 Health Act

CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., issued an open letter to responders and survivors, providing an update on the progress being made on implementing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. /niosh/topics/wtc/openletter.html

NIOSH Congratulates

NIOSH Health Scientist Aaron Sussell

NIOSH physician Mitchell Singal collects a dust sample in a worker%26rsquo;s home during a study to help the Pan American Health Organization assess community and worker exposures to heavy metals related to a tin smelter in Oruro, Bolivia.

NIOSH physician Mitchell Singal collects a dust sample in a worker’s home during a study to help the Pan American Health Organization assess community and worker exposures to heavy metals related to a tin smelter in Oruro, Bolivia.

A photo by NIOSH health scientist Aaron Sussell honoring the public health legacy of Dr. Mitchell Singal was a 2010 CDC Photo Contest winner and is a new addition to the permanent photojournalism exhibit in the CDC Global Communications Center in Atlanta, GA. It joins other photos taken by CDC staff (including other photos by Aaron) that bring public health to life and highlight the people and programs of CDC. Dr. Singal, who passed away in 2007, left a rich heritage of service at NIOSH.

Health Communicator Elaine Cullen

Elaine Cullen, PhD, occupational safety and health consultant for NIOSH, was selected by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) as one of the “WISE (Women in Safety Engineering) 100 Women Making a Difference.” Dr. Cullen will give a presentation Women in Safety: Gender Issues and Challenges Over the Years at the annual ASSE Expo ( in Chicago in June.

Federal Register Notices

For a listing of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices for 2011 go to /niosh/fedreg.html.

Global Happenings

NIOSH Invited to Give Exposure Assessment Training in Johannesburg

South Africa’s National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) invited NIOSH to assist in strengthening industrial hygiene capacity and funded a 4-day course, “Occupational Exposure Assessment Strategies and Statistical Data Analysis,” presented by Martha Waters, Aaron Sussell, and Catherine Beaucham the first week in March in Johannesburg. Occupational health professionals were trained in exposure assessment strategies, statistics, and data interpretation. A 1-day train-the-trainer workshop was conducted on the following day and will lead to additional training in the country. For more information contact Catherine Beaucham at

Kuwait Workshop Focuses on Protecting Healthcare Workers

In April Dr. Ahmed Gomaa (NIOSH), Susan Wilburn (World Health Organization), Ginger Parker (University of Virginia), and trainers from Gulf States conducted a combined workshop in Kuwait for 40 hospital infection control and preventive medicine health professionals who travelled from Kuwait and other neighboring Gulf states. The goals of the workshop were to prepare leaders in healthcare to be able to provide sustainable programming on occupational health and the prevention of exposure to bloodborne infections; to evaluate and make recommendations on policies to protect healthcare workers; and to establish a regional surveillance network using the Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet) exposure surveillance software.

News from Our Partners

Falling Asleep at the Wheel

The Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program has investigated semi truck fatalities since 2005, with 14 such investigations completed. Falling asleep at the wheel was considered a primary contributing factor for six of the fatal crashes, but falling asleep at the wheel is often difficult to prove. However, in a recently released fatality case report, a long-haul company driver who was awake and cognizant, stated to a witness and EMS personnel that he fell asleep at the wheel before crashing, and gave his name, date of birth, point of origin and destination. This dialogue almost never happens when trying to determine the cause of a fatal collision due to falling asleep at the wheel, the Kentucky researchers say. This information is useful to FACE investigators to determine root causes of semi truck transportation fatalities, examine engineering and administrative controls such as the incorporation of driver alert systems technology in semi trucks and the employer provision of semi truck drivers with drowsy-type driver alert systems, and can be used to inform federal and state transportation policy making. The report is available at

New Health Hazard Evaluation Reports Now Available

HHE logo Evaluating Risks to Workers at a Center for the Developmentally Disabled

HHE program investigators evaluated high numbers of occupational injuries resulting from resident aggression toward staff at a center for the developmentally disabled. Investigators found that staff was at risk of injury from assault by residents and that the injury and illness incidence rate associated with assault was higher than national rates for healthcare and social assistance centers. It was recommended that managers hire additional staff to provide a higher staff-to-resident ratio and form a safety committee. Investigators also recommended that staff remove objects from the environment that could be used as weapons and report all injuries. Safe and secure work settings enhance care for developmentally disabled residents. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2008-0046-3123.pdf

Evaluating Electromagnetic Field Exposures in Laboratories and Atomic Time Radio Stations

HHE program investigators evaluated concerns about electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures at a research institution’s laboratories and atomic time radio stations. HHE program investigators found that static magnetic flux densities exceeded the occupational exposure limit for medical device wearers working within 3 feet of the superconducting magnet. Investigators also determined that radio frequency electric and magnetic field strengths exceeded the most conservative occupational exposure limits within 30 feet of the 10- and 15-megahertz antennas at the atomic time radio stations. Investigators recommended that managers start a comprehensive EMF safety program and conduct annual training. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2009-0171-3119.pdf

Evaluating Exposure to Bisazir among Biological Technicians

HHE program investigators evaluated concerns about possible health effects in employees handling bisazir, a chemical used to sterilize sea lampreys in the Great Lakes. Investigators did not find bisazir in the air, on work surfaces, in cotton glove samples, or in the bulk water samples taken from the tanks that house sea lampreys that have been treated with bisazir. Additionally, no bisazir was detected in samples of employees’ urine. Investigators recommended that management consider downgrading the level of personal protective equipment required for future sterilization seasons. Until then, employees should continue to follow the current recommended personal protective equipment procedures and work practices. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2010-0012-3125.pdf


Research and Partnering Awards Nominations Due May 18

The NORA Liaison Committee and NIOSH are accepting nominations through May 18 for two prestigious worker health and safety awards to be presented at the 2011 NORA Symposium, Cincinnati, OH, July 12 and 13. More information is available at

r2p Corner

r2p logo NIOSH Partners to Combat Hand-arm Vibration Diseases

Work-related hand-arm vibration diseases are caused by multiple hazards. NIOSH researchers partnered with the Department of Defense, General Service Administration and industrial partners to combat the root causes of hand-arm vibration diseases. Through this partnership, researchers have evaluated many anti-vibration gloves and some powered hand tools, significantly improved the test methods of the gloves and tools, identified better gloves and tools, raised issue awareness, increased extensive training and outreach, and developed a model for future collaborative efforts to improve process management and worker safety. For more information, contact Ren Dong at or Thomas McDowell at

New Communication Products

NIOSH Bibliography of Communication and Research Products, 2010

This comprehensive list (available in print and CD) is a handy reference tool for finding communication and research products that NIOSH produced in 2010. /niosh/docs/2011-158/

Two new NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletins (CIBs) now available

CIB 63: Occupational Exposure to Titanium Dioxide /niosh/docs/2011-160/

CIB 64: Coal Mine Dust Exposures and Associated Health Outcomes /niosh/docs/2011-172/


To see other new NIOSH communication products, including documents and topic pages, go to the NIOSH “What’s New” page. /niosh/whatsnew/

Call for Abstracts

NORA Manufacturing Sector Conference: Partnerships to Improve Occupational Safety and Health, 2011
Call for poster and presentation abstracts. Deadline for submission May 30.

2012 Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference, 2012
Call for proposals. Deadline for submission is July 1.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

Waste Expo: The Center of it all. Where Environment Meets Innovation—Look for us! Booth #115
May 9–12, Dallas, TX

Warehousing Education and Research Council Conference—Look for us! Booth #212
May 15–18, Orlando, FL

American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo (AIHce)—Look for us! Booth #849
May 14–19, Portland, OR

Work, Stress, and Health 2011: Work and Well-Being in an Economic Context
May 19-22, Orlando FL

The American Society of Safety Engineers, Safety 2011 Exposition—Look for us!
June 12–15, Chicago, IL

NORA Symposium 2011: Achieving Impact Through Research and Partnerships
July 12-13, Cincinnati, Ohio

5th International Conference on Nanotechnology Occupational and Environmental Health
August 9-12, Boston, MA

Prevention Through Design Conference—A New Way of Doing Business: A Report on the National Initiative
August 22–24, Washington, DC

CIB W099 Prevention: Means to the End of Construction Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities
August 24–26, Washington, D.C.

NORA Manufacturing Sector Conference: Partnerships to Improve Occupational Safety and Health
September 7–8, Cincinnati, OH

Eliminating Health and Safety Disparities at Work
September 14–15, Chicago, IL

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
October 18-20, Morgantown, WV

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at /niosh/exhibits.html.

Word of the Month

Titanium dioxide (TiO2)— an insoluble white powder that is used extensively in many commercial products, including paint, cosmetics, plastics, paper, and food, as an anticaking or whitening agent. It is produced and used in the workplace in varying particle-size fractions, including fine and ultrafine sizes.

Please send your comments and suggestions to us at

This newsletter is published monthly via email by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to inform members of the public health community as well as interested members of the general public of Institute related news, new publications, and updates on existing programs and initiatives.